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  1. #1
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    What's been your manufacturer custom frame building experience?

    Interesting subforum. I'll help get it started....

    Ok, I'm thinking of ordering a custom frame next year, but am concerned about the process and especially the results.

    1. Litespeed and Seven have 4-6 slider scales of what do you want your bike to handle like?
    However in standard bikes there seems to be much commonality of geometry.

    QUESTION #1
    Do you trust the frame builder to do what's best, or do you specify all the variables?

    2. Longest lasting frames with good riding characteristics seem to be TI, but CF offers better aero at cost of lifespan before fatigue.

    QUESTION #2
    For a bike you want to last 10+ years, do you prefer TI or CF, and why?

    3. For touring it is said you need a longer chainstay.

    QUESTION #3
    Is that still true today, or will any standard chain stay length work with the paniers tilted for clearning issues?


    4. For century rides, speed out of the gate is not as important as how you feel at the end of the ride.

    QUESTION #4
    For century rides, do you prefer a 104-105 wheelbase or something around 90?

    that should be enough.....
    Hi 'o Silver away

  2. #2
    1 trick pony dogpound's Avatar
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    are you just looking at Ti and CF?

    both my customs are steal

  3. #3
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Not looking at steel because of the weight advantage of TI, CF.

    Goal is to be able to use the same energy on current AL bike on new TI,CF bike. I've ridden one TI and one CF type bike. I loved the ride of the TI but was uncomfortable on the CF as it seemed to jump from side to side. But it could just have been I was not used to the shorter wheelbase.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  4. #4
    1. e4 Nf6 Alekhine's Avatar
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    I just received my custom Mercian steel frame, so I won't answer #2, but:

    1. Both. If you have a really specific idea of certain variables, make sure you let it be known. If you don't know what angles specifically you want or the exact sizing, you'll want to give them your dimensions and tell them about your riding style, and maybe even send a pic of yourself on your current bike.

    I ordered a frame that I wanted as the basis for my personal vision of an ultimate touring machine, with braze-ons and eyelets for everything, 531-ST tubing, cranked stays for more clearance, 1" threaded steerer, etcetera. I also wanted Rohloff Speedhub dropouts, so I asked them to build those into it too, and now I have a one-of-a-kind frame. Additionally, I knew in advance the color and graphic scheme I wanted and sent that along. In short, everything I *knew* I wanted built in, I told them about quite specifically. I also tried to figure out a lot of it myself beforehand just so I could fill out their order form. I had to research Rohloff hubs to see what the dropout spacing was, etcetera, so that I could write "135 mm" where it asked for that.

    I did ask them to be creative and intuitive about a few things: namely, cable routing for the Rohloff hub, since I had no idea what to do with that. I also asked them to help out with angle choices, and they were quite accommodating there. You can be slightly vague and they'll know what's up. "I want a long and low tourer built for comfort and designed to be something of a mule for rides of 150 km or more," or whatever.

    3. If you are planning on putting panniers on your bikes and want more clearance, then yes, you'll want some chainstay length. There is some play with certain rack and pannier choices though. On my old Bianchi, for instance, I mounted my panniers further aft so that my heel would clear it, and I had a good 4 cm to work with on that. I had a short rack on that bike though, so I had to put the smaller front panniers on the back, which was just fine.

    4. I like long wheelbases for comfort, but with more racy and randonneurish bikes, you may want racier and shorter lines. Lightspeed and Seven are more racy-looking from what I've seen.
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  5. #5
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    Not looking at steel because of the weight advantage of TI, CF.

    Goal is to be able to use the same energy on current AL bike on new TI,CF bike. I've ridden one TI and one CF type bike. I loved the ride of the TI but was uncomfortable on the CF as it seemed to jump from side to side. But it could just have been I was not used to the shorter wheelbase.
    Titanium has very little real world advantage, weight wise, over steel. If you've never ridden on a really high quality Reynolds 753 or 853 tube bike, do so. The ride is very forgiving. Ti has nothing over steel except BLING.

    Tim
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
    1989 Raleigh Technium, 1989 Schwinn Traveler, 1986 Specialized Rockhopper
    1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper and just way too many projects to list.

  6. #6
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    cs1,

    Interesting. What's an example of a high quality 753/853 bike?
    Hi 'o Silver away

  7. #7
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    cs1,

    Interesting. What's an example of a high quality 753/853 bike?
    Read my signature line. There are very few 753 bikes out there anymore because the tubing was superceded by 853. I like Waterfords personally. I will try to post pics of my bikes for you.

    Tim
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
    1989 Raleigh Technium, 1989 Schwinn Traveler, 1986 Specialized Rockhopper
    1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper and just way too many projects to list.

  8. #8
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alekhine
    I just received my custom Mercian steel frame,
    4. I like long wheelbases for comfort, but with more racy and randonneurish bikes, you may want racier and shorter lines. Lightspeed and Seven are more racy-looking from what I've seen.
    The most appealing initially to me was the Blue Ridge, which is a touring bike. But when you look at the geometry,
    many models are over 100. I think the BR is about 104.

    Right now my biggest problem is I don't know what I want in bike geometry, components, etc. I do know I can only get one more bike, so I need to be careful about selection. Since this will be an alternative to a second car, a 4-5k bike is not out of the question.

    I don't know all the right jargon, but roughly this is what I'm looking for:

    1. lighter than current 28 lb bike
    2. not subject to fatigue and breakage
    3. must have disc brake option
    4. must have aero advantages
    5. GI range from 27-110gi with few changes above 15%

    6. not requiring constant side to side steering changes when riding on narrower paths
    7. easy to pedal
    8. double brake levels: handlebar & in drops
    9. able to mount panniers, if desired
    10. rear rack is a must
    11. fenders are a must
    12. more forgiving ride than AL frame

    What I currently think would be the best is:
    Frame: TI or CF. [ open to reconsidering high quality steel if weight is not too steep. But 7's steel are about 3/4 lb heavier than TI]
    Drivetrain: Shamino 105 or maybe ultegra [ durability more important than weight]
    Cassette: 12-27 [ maybe to -29 or -31]
    Chainrings: 26, 42, 54 [ current: 28,42,54 ]
    Disc Brakes: Avid, juicy 7 ?? [hydraulic is overkill]
    Rims/wheelsets: undecided, current Mavics working fine. [ Think I need 32 hole rims, for 250 lb load]
    Cranks: 172.5 or 175, [ have to reevaluate sizing info to see if any gain ]
    tires: 25/28/32 mm [23mm is too narrow]
    aero bars


    Here is where I am totally frustrated as I can't figure out what is good or bad, must less what is best.

    Handling
    Usually described as a range from Stable..Agile.
    Is agile the same as squirelly? If agile is not stable, what does that mean when you are riding?

    Horizontal/drive train Stiffness
    Usually described as a range from Soft..Stiff, or ModerallyStiff..VeryStiff.
    What does this mean? 1 cm side to side play is soft or moderate or what?

    Road comfort
    Usually described as a range from Plush..Harsh.
    I presume this is shock absorbant characteristics.


    Now how do you translate this into geometry?

    1. wheelbase
    Say ranges are about 100 to 107 cm. What does this extra 2 inches translate into? How does the bike handle differently?


    2. seat tube angles
    Say ranges are 71 to 74.5 degrees.
    How does this translate into riding changes. Totally lost here in how to interpret the numbers. Is lower or higher number better?

    and the questions go on and on, ugh.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  9. #9
    Bike Junkie aadhils's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cs1
    If you've never ridden on a really high quality Reynolds 753 or 853 tube bike, do so.
    Tim
    Hey,

    My current ride has a Surly Cromoly frame. Is the 853 tubing really that much better. I'm not doubting your statement about the quality, just out of curiosity. Oh and how better is 853 tubing comfortwise compared to cromoly?....

  10. #10
    Industry Maven Thylacine's Avatar
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    HiYoSilver,

    It seems to me like you have a fair idea of what you need, with just a few ambiguities on a few points that any decent frame designer can help you with.

    The most confusing part for me is I'm not sure how you create an aero touring bike. If you want to mount aero bars for a randonee style event, cool, but if you want a touring bike, they're usually not conducive to cheating the wind.

    I think the best thing you can do is have a search of all the custom builders out there, and find one who you can relate to/empathise with, and have a chat to them.

    Off the top of my head, I think Ti and Steel are your best bet, and once you have your functional requirments a bit more narrowed down and focussed, I think your custom concept will be a good one.
    Have you earned your stripes? <<click here / Questions about custom frames? Chat me! - warwickg71 (AIM/iChat) ThylacineCycles (Skype)

  11. #11
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cs1
    Titanium has very little real world advantage, weight wise, over steel. If you've never ridden on a really high quality Reynolds 753 or 853 tube bike, do so. The ride is very forgiving. Ti has nothing over steel except BLING.
    Tim
    Having had a custom 853 mtb frame and a custom Ti mtb frame I can't agree with you Tim. I think HOW the frames is made has much more to do with the ride than WHAT the frame was made from.

    I went overnight from a Custom 853 to a custom Ti (same parts, same route, different frame) and the difference was very noticable. The 853 jack-hammered me (I was never happy with it) and the Ti felt totally "mellow" (the word I used to let the builder know what I wanted). I even got off the bike twice to check for low tire pressure on that first ride.

    The 853 certainly wasn't "very forgiving" as you claim but I'm sure the builder could have made it that way had he wanted. And I'm sure the Ti frame could have been made much stiffer if "mellow" wasn't what I'd asked for.

    So I don't think we can generalize based solely on material.

  12. #12
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by aadhils
    Hey,

    My current ride has a Surly Cromoly frame. Is the 853 tubing really that much better. I'm not doubting your statement about the quality, just out of curiosity. Oh and how better is 853 tubing comfortwise compared to cromoly?....
    It is better but the big difference is in weight. You would be shocked in how much less a good Reynolds 853 frameset is to an otherwise identical 4130. Surly makes a very nice frameset at a competitive price. The reason the frame is so cheap is the materials though.

    Tim
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
    1989 Raleigh Technium, 1989 Schwinn Traveler, 1986 Specialized Rockhopper
    1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper and just way too many projects to list.

  13. #13
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thylacine
    HiYoSilver,

    It seems to me like you have a fair idea of what you need, with just a few ambiguities on a few points that any decent frame designer can help you with.

    The most confusing part for me is I'm not sure how you create an aero touring bike. If you want to mount aero bars for a randonee style event, cool, but if you want a touring bike, they're usually not conducive to cheating the wind.

    I think the best thing you can do is have a search of all the custom builders out there, and find one who you can relate to/empathise with, and have a chat to them.

    Off the top of my head, I think Ti and Steel are your best bet, and once you have your functional requirments a bit more narrowed down and focussed, I think your custom concept will be a good one.
    It's lite/credit card touring/commuting. If you lurk in the touring subforum, you'll find many tourers use aero bars, mostly to counter the winds. Aero bars are an accessory and mount and unmount at will. I really don't want a traditional touring bike. I'm looking for a faster commuter bike that in a few years I can use for 20-100 ish mile joy rides after I retire.

    I keep on flirting with CF because of it's ability to be molded into more aero shapes. Steel is nice enough, but I carry too much weight the way it is. I was flirting with bents because of their aero advantage, but relooking at the data points, there is little difference between an aero riding position and a bent. The big disadvantages with bents are: 1- different muscle sets, 2- dealers are harder to find, 3- test rides won't tell you much about what you like and dislike, and 4- harder to ride with traffic.

    Strangely enough the best information I have found from published books, like the science of cycling. I've hit the IHPV site but most of it's info is focused on bents and time contests. Are there any good references you would recommend taking a look at? There's a fair amount of information about aero characterics of bents, but few of DF. Many bents put on tail fairings, or front fairings, or wind socks, or all, to gain more speed. But I haven't found any scientific data on using that same idea on DF's.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  14. #14
    Industry Maven Thylacine's Avatar
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    cs1, the reason Surlys are cheap is because they're made by cheap labour and the manufacturers that manufacture them more than likely don't have to worry about all those pesky costs like paying people a decent wage, paying them entitlements, superanuation, heath care, worrying about the environment, sustainability etc. In any given "thing", the materials cost is more than usually the smallest cost, and a bike is no exception. The big exception to this is Titanium frames where the materials cost is astonomical.

    Back to your questions HiYo, I don't know anything about recumbents so I can't comment. Greenspeeds are actually made here, so you could drop them an e-mail and ask them some questions I guess.

    As for aero bars, I can see them being used, but credit card touring isn't about getting from A-to-B as fast as possible. I agree a touring bike might be a tad too heavy, so a a more mild mannered road bike with provision for larger tires, fenders and a rear rack might be all you need.

    In terms of materials, steel and ti are your best options, simply because they're more customisable and you can get exactly the blend that you need. Very few cf bikes are designed for aerodynamics, and I don't know of any that are designed as cc tourers/ fast commuters - They're all Tri bikes, funnily enough.

    A tri bike with racks and fenders? Now there's a niche that hasn't been explored!
    Have you earned your stripes? <<click here / Questions about custom frames? Chat me! - warwickg71 (AIM/iChat) ThylacineCycles (Skype)

  15. #15
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thylacine
    In terms of materials, steel and ti are your best options, simply because they're more customisable and you can get exactly the blend that you need. Very few cf bikes are designed for aerodynamics, and I don't know of any that are designed as cc tourers/ fast commuters - They're all Tri bikes, funnily enough.

    A tri bike with racks and fenders? Now there's a niche that hasn't been explored!
    Nor the niche of RAAM legal and ICF illegal with racks & fenders. RAAM cheats as there's a handy dandy pursuit vehicle. Aside from the fact that it's a dumb event. A smart RAAM would be limit of 12 hours riding/day.

    Nor a cyclocross bike with racks & fenders.

    In DF, I'm constantly fluctating between:

    Cyclocross
    Touring
    TT

    Cyclocross - some aero and strong frame, pannier/rack/fenders friendly, moderately long wheelbase
    Touring - no aero and strong frame, high pannier/rack/fender friendly, long wheelbase
    TT- high aero, light frame, pannier/rack/fenders unfriendly, short wheelbase

    The big unknown for me is the change in seat angle for TT. It is supposed to be better for riding in the drops, but everyone also seems to agree that this geometry is unsuitable for centuries.

    How can both be true?
    1- better angle to allow rider to utilize more aero riding position comfortably
    2- more aero position means can't ride centuries comfortably

    The other unknown is how much gain would an aero bike give the rider?
    I'm guessing if ride at 15 mph non-aero, aero may mean 16 mph for same effort.
    And that's the problem. So much of this is guessing...
    Hi 'o Silver away

  16. #16
    Senior Member SteelCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    The most appealing initially to me was the Blue Ridge, which is a touring bike. But when you look at the geometry,
    many models are over 100. I think the BR is about 104.

    Right now my biggest problem is I don't know what I want in bike geometry, components, etc. I do know I can only get one more bike, so I need to be careful about selection. Since this will be an alternative to a second car, a 4-5k bike is not out of the question.

    I don't know all the right jargon, but roughly this is what I'm looking for:

    1. lighter than current 28 lb bike
    2. not subject to fatigue and breakage
    3. must have disc brake option
    4. must have aero advantages
    5. GI range from 27-110gi with few changes above 15%

    6. not requiring constant side to side steering changes when riding on narrower paths
    7. easy to pedal
    8. double brake levels: handlebar & in drops
    9. able to mount panniers, if desired
    10. rear rack is a must
    11. fenders are a must
    12. more forgiving ride than AL frame

    What I currently think would be the best is:
    Frame: TI or CF. [ open to reconsidering high quality steel if weight is not too steep. But 7's steel are about 3/4 lb heavier than TI]
    Drivetrain: Shamino 105 or maybe ultegra [ durability more important than weight]
    Cassette: 12-27 [ maybe to -29 or -31]
    Chainrings: 26, 42, 54 [ current: 28,42,54 ]
    Disc Brakes: Avid, juicy 7 ?? [hydraulic is overkill]
    Rims/wheelsets: undecided, current Mavics working fine. [ Think I need 32 hole rims, for 250 lb load]
    Cranks: 172.5 or 175, [ have to reevaluate sizing info to see if any gain ]
    tires: 25/28/32 mm [23mm is too narrow]
    aero bars


    Here is where I am totally frustrated as I can't figure out what is good or bad, must less what is best.

    Handling
    Usually described as a range from Stable..Agile.
    Is agile the same as squirelly? If agile is not stable, what does that mean when you are riding?

    Horizontal/drive train Stiffness
    Usually described as a range from Soft..Stiff, or ModerallyStiff..VeryStiff.
    What does this mean? 1 cm side to side play is soft or moderate or what?

    Road comfort
    Usually described as a range from Plush..Harsh.
    I presume this is shock absorbant characteristics.


    Now how do you translate this into geometry?

    1. wheelbase
    Say ranges are about 100 to 107 cm. What does this extra 2 inches translate into? How does the bike handle differently?


    2. seat tube angles
    Say ranges are 71 to 74.5 degrees.
    How does this translate into riding changes. Totally lost here in how to interpret the numbers. Is lower or higher number better?

    and the questions go on and on, ugh.

    I have a cold and am currently sleepless, so I'll bite

    If you want to have tire clearance, and disc brakes, then you can rule out CF. There are very few CF forks that can clear a true 25 mm tire, and others can correct me if I'm mistaken, but you can't find a CF fork fork with disc brake tabs.

    I don't recall where you discussed your weight and height, and that can affect other choices. If you are a big guy, or a real small person, this should be a factor. Presuming you are in the middle:

    1. Getting lighter than 28 pounds on your bike, should be easy, although with racks, bags, fenders, light (?), disc brakes, do not expect miracles unless you are prepared for some real incredible work. Jan Heine, in his magazine Vintage Bicycle Quarterly, has demonstrated that the French constructeur bicycles in the forties and fifties could have all the fittings of a true randonneur bicycle (except disc brakes, but including lights, fenders, racks) and weigh between 18 and 23 pounds. Those are steel bikes, mind you, and it's because they were custom in a much more expansive sense. All racks and many components were custom made. But that kind of labor is expensive, and I can't remember if you have a price out there.

    One other matter regarding weight. When your bike is built up, the difference of weight between different materials will not be too important. Since the tubing you will choose will be for touring use, it will be generally heavier than an equivalent frame for racing or unloaded riding. Your choices in equipment will have a far greater impact on weight than the frame. I think it's easy to get hung up about this material thing, but you could save .75 lb just by choosing one rack over another. People have been discussing the perceived differences between Ti and 853, for example, but many makers wouldn't use either for touring use. In the end, the cheapest steel will still make less a difference than the many choices you have to make. Choices about geometry, wheelbase, BB drop, etc. will be noticed by you when riding loaded more than a pound. Of course, someone will contradict this, but you have to compare the exact same build and frame geometry to make a real estimation of this. That said, everyone wants lighter weight and that's fine. Just don't think the frame is where you have to lighten the bike.


    2. I suppose a bike of any common frame material, if it was designed correctly, could last a super long time. Since this will be a touring bike, even light touring, it will need to be built so it does not flex remarkably under load but can endure low impact stresses in repetition for a very long time without forming cracks.

    3. If you want disc brakes, you should specify if that is for both front and back, or only front. You will need to ensure that the bike is designed to accomodate the rear rack and fenders that you plan on using.

    4. Aero advantages? I really don't know what that means. Do you? That's not a challenge, I just wonder if you mean aero bars. That's no big deal. Just keep in mind what your speed on the bike will be with your gear, and the length of your ride, and your body's needs. Aero advantages can be gained under certain conditions and at certain speeds.

    5. Your gear ratio with a typical triple or touring triple using mountain bike components will not be too hard. You can use Sheldon Brown's gear ratio/inch calculator on his website. I doubt you will need 110, but it's your call.

    6. Not require side to side steering changes when riding narrow paths? Do you mean on a straight narrow path, or one with curves? If the latter, well, good luck But if you mean that you want a bike that doesn't need constant correction from oversteering, and keeps a straight line well, then a longer wheelbase and the proper
    front end geometry is the most important thing to consider.

    7. Every bike is easy to pedal, unless there are no pedals or cranks or chain or the BB is cracked and needs grease. Or if you left that bike on the 110 inch gear combination

    8. Double brake lever: you mean you want to have cross levers on the tops, I suppose. That's a good idea. More weight, of course, but I wouldn't care.

    9, 10, 11. One significant factor will be where you want to carry the weight. Generally, the style for touring bikes lately has been to put panniers in the rear, which is fine. But there are bikes that have been designed to carry the weight in the front, based on the French randonneur tradition. These were bikes also designed for long loaded rides and framebuilders are recognizing their value again.
    Another thing to consider is having the bike built for a specific fender, so that the mounts or the fender itself is an integral part of the bike. If I was doing that, I would use the Gilles Berthoud stainless steel fenders. They are very impressive, sturdy, and well-designed.
    Also, if a rear rack is a must (or front, too) than you may want to consider having it built for the frame, depending on your budget. That will be another place to save weight instead of worrying about frame materials; having these things be designed into the frame. It also means you will never have to worry about customizing a fender or rack to your frame, and if you choose your bags ahead of time, that could be a very smart and holistic approach to this project.

    12. Properly designed any frame material can be forgiving. High quality tires will have a greater impact on this that material. There are some tires that are so bad that the ride of a wonderful bike is terrible. You could have the blingest bike in ther world, but you put Specialized Armadillos on it, and from what I've heard you might as well have square wheels.

    About your gears:
    You say you want 27-110 gear inches but the chainrings and cassette you specify, with 28 mm tires and 172.5 cranks, gives you a 26-120 range of gear inches. How about 48-36-26 with a 11-32 cassette, which gives you 22-117 gear inches?

    About your wheel set:
    With a 250 load, get a 36 spoked rear wheel at least, if not both. Boy, this is not a place to worry about a few grams in spokes. Really.

    About the geometry, "agility", and handling characteristics:
    I think this is the most complicated and important consideration for your purchase, and I highly recommend that you ignore what most people say. Very few people are examining this with real rigor. I am impressed with Jan Heine's work on these questions in his Vintage Bicycle Quarterly, which whether one agrees with every conclusion of his or not, it can't be denied the articles in it contain some of the best bicycle analysis available. It makes rags like Bicycling look so very dumb. In one article, he compared eight different bicyles looking at their angles, the geometric trail, the pneumatic trail, wheelbase, fork rake, BB drop, all sorts of things. He wrote this about his article in an post to the I-BOB list:
    http://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.as...10503.2265.eml
    The thing that irritates me is when people assert that one thing is the best thing without familiarity with different kinds of bikes from different traditions of bicycle design. There are writers out there who do us a great service by engaging in real analysis.

    I would check out Mariposa, in Toronto, Brian Baylis, in San Diego, Vanilla Cycles (Sacha White) in Portland, Curt Goodrich in Minnesota, Carl Strong in Montana, Bruce Gordon in CA, Waterford in Wisconsin, etc. You get far more for your money from than Seven, IMO. No comparison, considering their work. Not to knock companies, just my opinion.

  17. #17
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thylacine
    cs1, the reason Surlys are cheap is because they're made by cheap labour and the manufacturers that manufacture them more than likely don't have to worry about all those pesky costs like paying people a decent wage, paying them entitlements, superanuation, heath care, worrying about the environment, sustainability etc. In any given "thing", the materials cost is more than usually the smallest cost, and a bike is no exception. The big exception to this is Titanium frames where the materials cost is astonomical.

    OMG! This is soooooooooo far from the truth, I don't even know where to start. Do you even know Dave Gray? The owner of Surly. The guy takes trips overseas frequently to source new parts and check on the people building his frames. Trust me when I tell you this. The man is VERY conscious about the sweatshops and the blatant lies and rumors people in the industry try to spread about the Asian labor he specs. Just because it was built overseas does NOT mean that it was made in some sweatshop with little kids building things. I'm not doubting for one second that foreign (outside USA) costs are cheaper. Hell, look to Italy and France. Cost per good sold and wages are even less than the USA. Anyway, the generalization about Surly is very wrong and misleading.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bellweatherman
    OMG! This is soooooooooo far from the truth, I don't even know where to start. Do you even know Dave Gray? The owner of Surly. The guy takes trips overseas frequently to source new parts and check on the people building his frames. Trust me when I tell you this. The man is VERY conscious about the sweatshops and the blatant lies and rumors people in the industry try to spread about the Asian labor he specs. Just because it was built overseas does NOT mean that it was made in some sweatshop with little kids building things. I'm not doubting for one second that foreign (outside USA) costs are cheaper. Hell, look to Italy and France. Cost per good sold and wages are even less than the USA. Anyway, the generalization about Surly is very wrong and misleading.
    Where DO you get your facts? When total compensation is included, that paid directly by the factory, and that paid indirectly by the factory owner's taxes, including 100% guaranteed health care, a month's paid annual vacations, fully guaranteed retirement pensions...the total compensation of factory workers in France and Italy is far higher than folks building bikes in the USA. Which is why you don't see any "full Campy" bikes over at Wal-Mart selling for $77.95.

    EVERY importer from Asia claims to "carefully monitor" working conditions in his factories. And, when investigators from human rights groups document abuses, the importers say "Well, the day I was there, everything was wonderful".

    Give us the facts about Surly. How much are its Asian workers paid per month? What is the minimum age of his workers? What are the maximum hours worked per week? What sort of protection does the factory have to protect the workers against breathing solvents and chemicals? What steps are taken to ensure the factory does not impair the air quality or water quality of its community? How many times per year are independent human rights inspectors allowed to tour the factory?

    I don't expect anyone from Surly will provide specific facts. Better to just keep buying the cheapest products they can find, while making vague claims about how wonderfully they treat their workers. Bottom line: Importers use slave labor because it is cheap. They use the price edge from the use of slave labor to undersell suppliers in Europe and the USA. The ultimate result is American builders going out of business...American workers losing jobs. Cut to the chase. Importing slave labor products is about profit, not about people.
    Last edited by alanbikehouston; 12-12-05 at 08:53 AM.

  19. #19
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelCommuter
    I have a cold and am currently sleepless, so I'll bite
    WOW, I'm impressed, great info. Comments inline.

    If you want to have tire clearance, and disc brakes, then you can rule out CF. There are very few CF forks that can clear a true 25 mm tire, and others can correct me if I'm mistaken, but you can't find a CF fork fork with disc brake tabs.
    This is definitely something important to keep in mind. I can't ride smaller than 25mm tires.


    I don't recall where you discussed your weight and height, and that can affect other choices. If you are a big guy, or a real small person, this should be a factor. Presuming you are in the middle:
    Didn't realize this was important. About 230 and 6'. So not in middle, that's why 25 is thinnest tire available. But guess I'll probably go 28mm.


    1. Getting lighter than 28 pounds on your bike, should be easy, although with racks, bags, fenders, light (?), disc brakes, do not expect miracles unless you are prepared for some real incredible work.

    One other matter regarding weight. When your bike is built up, the difference of weight between different materials will not be too important.
    True, I was wondering about other characteristics.

    . Choices about geometry, wheelbase, BB drop, etc. will be noticed by you when riding loaded more than a pound.
    That's why I'm more concerned about geometry than anything else right now. It's the part I understand the least.

    2. I suppose a bike of any common frame material, if it was designed correctly, could last a super long time. Since this will be a touring bike, even light touring, it will need to be built so it does not flex remarkably under load but can endure low impact stresses in repetition for a very long time without forming cracks.
    That's the big worry about CF. TI == no worries.

    3. If you want disc brakes, you should specify if that is for both front and back, or only front. You will need to ensure that the bike is designed to accomodate the rear rack and fenders that you plan on using.
    I was think of both, the only advantage of front only would be to save a sliver of weight.


    4. Aero advantages? I really don't know what that means. Do you? That's not a challenge, I just wonder if you mean aero bars. That's no big deal. Just keep in mind what your speed on the bike will be with your gear, and the length of your ride, and your body's needs. Aero advantages can be gained under certain conditions and at certain speeds.
    1. aero wheels: either 3 spoke or flat spokes. Not discs because of side wind issues
    2. aero frame
    3. aero handelbars
    4. aero fork
    5. aero bag
    6. aero for control panel: probably DIY, lights/cyclometer/bell/etc
    7. aero for cabling

    Maximum gain is 8% at speeds > 15mph. So, yeah, a lot of work for a 1 to 2 mph gain.

    5. Your gear ratio with a typical triple or touring triple using mountain bike components will not be too hard. You can use Sheldon Brown's gear ratio/inch calculator on his website. I doubt you will need 110, but it's your call.
    The panic URL is better for gearing. Gearing will be one of the easier settings.


    6. Not require side to side steering changes when riding narrow paths? Do you mean on a straight narrow path, or one with curves? If the latter, well, good luck But if you mean that you want a bike that doesn't need constant correction from oversteering, and keeps a straight line well, then a longer wheelbase and the proper
    front end geometry is the most important thing to consider.
    Curving path. Giant FCR felt too much steering correction, but only rode for a bit and it may mean just getting used to it.


    8. Double brake lever: you mean you want to have cross levers on the tops, I suppose. That's a good idea. More weight, of course, but I wouldn't care.
    Yes, or "suicide brake levers"


    9, 10, 11. One significant factor will be where you want to carry the weight. Generally, the style for touring bikes lately has been to put panniers in the rear, which is fine. But there are bikes that have been designed to carry the weight in the front, based on the French randonneur tradition. These were bikes also designed for long loaded rides and framebuilders are recognizing their value again.
    Another thing to consider is having the bike built for a specific fender, so that the mounts or the fender itself is an integral part of the bike. If I was doing that, I would use the Gilles Berthoud stainless steel fenders. They are very impressive, sturdy, and well-designed.
    Also, if a rear rack is a must (or front, too) than you may want to consider having it built for the frame, depending on your budget. That will be another place to save weight instead of worrying about frame materials; having these things be designed into the frame. It also means you will never have to worry about customizing a fender or rack to your frame, and if you choose your bags ahead of time, that could be a very smart and holistic approach to this project.
    Thanks for the Berthoud suggestion. I'm not crazy about SKS fenders. Currently I'm using an al rack with bungies and travel rack. I'd rather have a non-bungie solution.

    12. Properly designed any frame material can be forgiving. High quality tires will have a greater impact on this that material. There are some tires that are so bad that the ride of a wonderful bike is terrible. You could have the blingest bike in ther world, but you put Specialized Armadillos on it, and from what I've heard you might as well have square wheels.
    I'm riding heavy here with Schwalbe marathon slicks. There's a new marathon 2006 that will give better speed.

    About your gears:
    You say you want 27-110 gear inches but the chainrings and cassette you specify, with 28 mm tires and 172.5 cranks, gives you a 26-120 range of gear inches. How about 48-36-26 with a 11-32 cassette, which gives you 22-117 gear inches?
    The cost is higher % in changing between gears. I need lower GI, so this will be open to investigation.



    About your wheel set:
    With a 250 load, get a 36 spoked rear wheel at least, if not both. Boy, this is not a place to worry about a few grams in spokes. Really.
    This is interesting, what about 3 spoke options, or heavier spokes but fewer. 32 is working ok for me now with no breaks. Knock on wood.



    I need to study this article, thanks for the reference.


    I would check out Mariposa, in Toronto, Brian Baylis, in San Diego, Vanilla Cycles (Sacha White) in Portland, Curt Goodrich in Minnesota, Carl Strong in Montana, Bruce Gordon in CA, Waterford in Wisconsin, etc. You get far more for your money from than Seven, IMO. No comparison, considering their work. Not to knock companies, just my opinion.
    I'm not getting a high comfort feeling level with Seven. I do get a high comfort feeling from Litespeed. Again, I think the first step is figure out what is best and then figure out what is doable.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  20. #20
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    cs1,

    Interesting. What's an example of a high quality 753/853 bike?
    It is a few years old but in it's day early 90's to about 1999 these were Waterford's top of the line racing bike. New old bike rebuild
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
    1989 Raleigh Technium, 1989 Schwinn Traveler, 1986 Specialized Rockhopper
    1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper and just way too many projects to list.

  21. #21
    Industry Maven Thylacine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellweatherman
    OMG! This is soooooooooo far from the truth, I don't even know where to start. Do you even know Dave Gray? The owner of Surly. The guy takes trips overseas frequently to source new parts and check on the people building his frames. Trust me when I tell you this. The man is VERY conscious about the sweatshops and the blatant lies and rumors people in the industry try to spread about the Asian labor he specs.
    You obviously didn't read the part where I said 'more than likely', and you have not addressed any of the questions. Dave can be as 'conscious' as he likes, but he's in the business of making money, and none of us - not even you - actually know what the conditions are like. You're also conveniently ignoring simple known facts about doing business in China, none of which are particulary savory and most of which are conveniently ignored when it comes to profit-making.

    Call me weird, but people aren't going to China or Bangladesh or wherever to make things because they're humanitarians. I know it may be harsh, but I reserve the right to maintain a very healthy skepticism on these matters, despite how 'conscious' anyone might be.
    Have you earned your stripes? <<click here / Questions about custom frames? Chat me! - warwickg71 (AIM/iChat) ThylacineCycles (Skype)

  22. #22
    Senior Member SteelCommuter's Avatar
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    Surly frames and products are made in Taiwan, not China or Bangladesh. There is a substantial difference in terms of wages and working conditions. Many progressive people in the bicycle industry have been impressed enough with wages, benefits, and the recognition of unions in the shops to have their products manufactured there. While I try to continue buy products as locally as possible, for several reasons, I know the difference between conditions for workers in China and Taiwan. Please educate yourselves further before you post, even if you decide I'm wrong. Your comparisons do a disservice to Taiwanese workers.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thylacine
    You obviously didn't read the part where I said 'more than likely', and you have not addressed any of the questions. Dave can be as 'conscious' as he likes, but he's in the business of making money, and none of us - not even you - actually know what the conditions are like. You're also conveniently ignoring simple known facts about doing business in China, none of which are particulary savory and most of which are conveniently ignored when it comes to profit-making.

    Call me weird, but people aren't going to China or Bangladesh or wherever to make things because they're humanitarians. I know it may be harsh, but I reserve the right to maintain a very healthy skepticism on these matters, despite how 'conscious' anyone might be.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    ...

    Do you trust the frame builder to do what's best, or do you specify all the variables?

    ...
    Somebody mentioned a Cold War quote from Gorbachev: "Trust but verify"

    I think you need to find the most experienced "fitter" possible, and then go from there.

    I was set on either a MOOTs, Seven or a Serotta. They had two Serotta dealers in town (St. Louis) and a Seven dealer. I ended up driving 3hrs (6hrs roundtrip) out of town, to a fitter I liked. He was a Serotta dealer, but if he had sold Seven I'm sure he could've spec'd a nice Seven for me as well. My main concern was having someone at a shop that could correctly assess my needs. Whether it was MOOTs, Seven or Serotta--didn't matter as much as a competent fitter, imo.

    So yeah--find the person you are most comfortable and then go from there. If the company whose frame you're interested has a forum--go to that forum and start asking questions, etc.

    Knowledge is key. But yeah--trust the fitter, but know it's someone you can trust to hit the mark, then you won't need to second guess their design.

    I've heard of people getting custom frames they were unhappy with--I don't know if the customer didn't specify correctly, the fitter was incompetent, or a combination of the two. The guy I chose was well known, probably the best in Missouri, he owned a nice shop and had been fitting for Serotta forever, and he was 100% confident--absolutely unshakeable that he would get it correct. And he did, got the frame about a month ago and it is literally PERFECT, much better than I had anticipated.

    So yeah--find someone smart, knowledgable, experienced and confident. If the dude seems shaky, or new--go somewhere else.

    Don't get super hungup on what brand or even materials--you can deal with that later. First step is to find someone you are confident and comfortable with. Then discuss the other stuff.

    btw, this isn't to say that brand or material isn't important--it's very important, but your first step, and YOUR point of contact (as a customer), is the fitter.

    Specialization is key--as a customer the fitter is your contact.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Serpico; 12-30-05 at 08:35 PM.

  24. #24
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggurat
    Somebody mentioned a Cold War quote from Gorbachev: "Trust but verify"

    ..
    btw, this isn't to say that brand or material isn't important--it's very important, but your first step, and YOUR point of contact (as a customer), is the fitter.

    Specialization is key--as a customer the fitter is your contact.

    Good luck.
    I started looking at material and then manufacturers. Then I started looking hard at bike types. I'm almost certain I want a bike in Tri/TT category. Beyond that open.

    Brakes has been a big deal for me. I simply no longer trust rim brakes after having problems on long steep downhills with rim brakes. So I'm mostly locked into disc brakes. Try finding disc brakes on a road/tri/tt bike. I'm not sure CF manufacturers would make a good bike for disc brakes.


    So, now I have started at the other other end and picking out bike backwards: Components I will be looking at are:

    Wheels-- aero 50mm/60mm able to handle disc brakes
    Fork-- aero, totally unknown
    handlebar-- something like hed aerobars probably but haven't been there yet
    frame-- from 2-3 manufacturers
    brakes--
    saddle, stem, etc
    drive train

    For wheels, only possibility I have found is Hed Alps wheelset and replacing hub and spokes. Even then not without difficulty. The problem is that wheel is not real strong for 250 lb load and will require maintenance.

    So it's a matter of evaluating:

    Hed alps wheel with disc hub and disc brakes and plan on wheelset maintenance, OR
    Hed 3 with some kind of rim brakes. Less maintenance and lower braking performance.

    I'm not in a rush on this and want to do a better job deciding on what I really need. I figure after I figure out all the custom components and narrow it down to one or two manufacturers, then it's time to pick out LBS and fitter. I expect it to be difficult to find a good LBS with brand, so expect I'll have to travel for fitting. There is a possible dealer nearby but first 2 visits were not encouraging. What I'd like to do is find a dealer with a Litespeed Blade in stock for a test ride, not available in immediate area.

    So back to the wheel question. Stick to guns and insist on disc brakes or cave and accept weaker brakes for less maintenance.
    Hi 'o Silver away

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